Comox Estuary Tour #2
by Pat Cottingham, 3 Oct 2022
An enthusiastic group of 12 spent a stunningly beautiful, warm and calm day on the Comox Estuary and in the Baynes Sound area. We went over as foot passengers from Westview and boarded bus transport at Little River….to take us to Comox Harbour to link up with Duncan Cameron (skipper of the “Twee Schoenen”/Comox Harbour Tours) and our engaging and very informative guide for the day, Caitlan Pierzchalski. She is a Marine Biologist, with a graduate degree in Ecological Restoration, and is the Executive Director of “Project Watershed” ….an organization that is involved with a multitude of habitat improvement and restoration projects. Many of their projects are connected with other grassroots, provincial and federal agencies and many involve the input from the K’omoks First Nation; traditional territory of the Sahtloot, Sasitla, Leeksun and Puntledge peoples.
On our slow trip up the Comox Estuary (where the Courtney River meets the sea; and fresh and salt water mix), Caitlin provided fascinating historical, cultural, and physical details to set a context for what we were viewing. We were hoping to see the remnants of the fish weirs that an earlier earthquake unveiled …. but the tides were too high. It was a great day for our birders however, as there was a plethora of canada geese (they are one reason we need to restore the foreshore eel grass areas; agh), common mergansers, surf scoters (not scooters as I thought), american wigeon ducks and others that I missed making notes on; sorry!
We were able to see the progress of a major Project Watershed/K’omoks First Nation habitat restoration project… “Kus-kus-sum”… at the site of the former Field Sawmill. Instead of using this vacant site for residential and retail development, significant monies were raised through community fund raising, donations and multiple grants to buy the land from Interfor and commence work on restoration and conservation of the site. It really is an impressive and awesome endeavour to provide fish and wildlife habitat, attenuation, carbon sequestration as well as recreation and educational opportunities.
We had time for a leisurely trip towards Baynes Sound; checking out Tree Island and viewing the lovely beaches. We returned home slightly sunburned, totally relaxed, and again thankful to live in such a beautiful part of the world.